Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

McDowell v. Litz

July 10, 2009

JOHN MCDOWELL, PLAINTIFF
v.
RAYMOND LITZ, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sylvia H. Rambo United States District Judge

(Judge Rambo)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the court is a motion to compel discovery filed by Plaintiff John McDowell. (Doc. 51.) Specifically, Plaintiff is seeking further responses to a set of interrogatories and a request for production of documents. For the reasons that follow, the motion to compel will be denied without prejudice.

I. Background

Plaintiff initiated this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on August 4, 2008, against several employees*fn1 of the State Correctional Institution in Dallas, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Dallas"), his current place of confinement. In the complaint, Plaintiff sets forth allegations of retaliation, deliberate indifference, and due process violations with respect to a disciplinary hearing.

Defendants filed an answer to the complaint on November 21, 2008. (Doc. 22.) Since that time, the parties have been engaging in discovery. On January 30, 2009, the court issued an order setting the deadline for completion of discovery. (Doc. 34.) On April 1, 2009, the court granted Defendants' motion for an extension of the deadline of discovery, setting a new deadline for completion of discovery at May 29, 2009. (Doc. 47.) Outstanding are issues relating to discovery disputes regarding a set of interrogatories and a request for production of documents. Those issues will be discussed herein.

II. Discussion

Generally, courts afford considerable latitude in discovery in order to ensure that litigation proceeds with "the fullest possible knowledge of the issues and facts before trial." Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 501 (1947). The polestar of discovery is relevance. Relevance for discovery purposes is defined broadly. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit discovery "regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense . . . . Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). "[A]ll relevant material is discoverable unless an applicable evidentiary privilege is asserted. The presumption that such matter is discoverable, however, is defeasible." Pearson v. Miller, 211 F.3d 57, 65 (3d Cir. 2000). Rule 26(b)(2) authorizes a court to limit discovery where

(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information sought by discovery in the action; or (iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2). However, when there is no doubt about relevance, a court should tend toward permitting discovery. Stabilus v. Haynsworth, Baldwin, Johnson & Greaves, P.A., 144 F.R.D. 258, 265-66 (E.D. Pa. 1992).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 allows a party who has received evasive or incomplete discovery responses to seek a court order compelling additional disclosure or discovery. The party seeking the order to compel must demonstrate the relevance of the information sought. The burden then shifts to the opposing party, who must demonstrate in specific terms why a discovery request does not fall within the broad scope of discovery or is otherwise privileged or improper. Goodman v. Wagner, 553 F. Supp. 255, 258 (E.D. Pa. 1982).

During the period of discovery, Plaintiff served interrogatories on Defendant Litz and a request for production of documents on all Defendants.*fn2 On May 15, 2009, Defendants responded to the interrogatories and requests for production of documents by providing information related to the case or objecting on the basis of relevancy, privilege, or security concerns. (Doc. 53-2, Ex. A, Def. Raymond Litz's Resp. to Pl. Interrogs., May 15, 2009; Doc. 53-3, Ex. B, Defs. Resp. to Pl. Req. for Produc. of Docs., May 15, 2009.) Further, on May 21, 2009, Plaintiff reviewed ninety (90) pages of requested documents provided by Defendants, and was provided with photocopies of twenty-three (23) documents. (See Doc. 53.) In a handwritten statement, Plaintiff acknowledged that he was given "ample time to review all the documents." (Doc. 53-4, Ex. C, Pl. Statement, May 21, 2009.) In the instant motion, Plaintiff is requesting that the court direct Defendants to provide further responses to certain requests in both discovery documents. The court will review the instant requests at issue in an effort to resolve the instant discovery dispute and place the case back in a posture to be resolved.

A. Requests for Grievances

In the instant motion, Plaintiff requests that the court compel Defendants to provide copies of various grievances filed by other SCI-Dallas inmates. Plaintiff initially requested these grievances in both his interrogatories and his request for production of documents. Those requests, as stated in the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.